We decided to head to Racine, where we could visit our former family doctor. Janis needs a refill on her meds, and Cary and I need to get inoculated for the variety of diseases one could come in contact with. The City of New Orleans is recommending tetanus shots for sure, but our friend Keith said people are also getting shots for typhoid, diphtheria, as well as Hep A and B. That kind of anti-disease cocktail is sure to make one feel pretty lousy for a few days, so we will let the doctor decide what is best. What he does and how we feel will determine our next course of action. It is taking people as long as an hour to get back into the city, so we aren't necessarily in a hurry to get back but on the other hand, we are so tired of being on the road.
Yesterday we left Mascoutah, IL and dropped Adam and Megan off at Boomer's, which is a pool hall in Sturtevant, WI owned by Adam's friend Pete. They will stay with Pete until Wednesday. Cary and Andrea are staying with our friends Dan and Bonnie Cruz. We then headed back south (for only 45 minutes) to Janis' sister's house in Libertyville, IL where Janis, Jarret, and I spent the night. While there, we did the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership of their Jeep to us, and they retreived the few posessions that were left in it. We are extremely grateful for their willingness to sell us their Jeep, as it has proved absolutely necessary in getting people where they need to be. I am sure it will also prove invaluable in getting bringing supplies back into the city.
- I spoke with Coop on Sunday. He was to pick Laura up at the airport yesterday and heard on the radio the French Quarter may have power as soon as Tuesday. He plans on opening Coop's Place within a day or so of when they have electricity. He is understandably anxious for us to get back, since we are traveling with a significant portion of his staff. He also spoke with Jim Monaghan about subsidizing housing in the apartments above Coop's Place and Molly's for returning workers who no longer have homes. Apparently, almost no one is returning to those apartments. He sent me a text message yesterday that said he had power at Coop's Place.
- Sean and Juli sent me an email to let us know in no uncertain terms that they are planning on returning to New Orleans. Right now, they will come back for Halloween to check things out.
- Kattai sent me a text message reporting that she and Allan plan to return to New Orleans for Halloween.
Here's something interesting I found on the net:
You know, sometimes we lose things here and there a key, the toll slip on the interstate (damn!), our wallet (double damn!). But the U.S. military they’ve one-upped us by losing some armed attack dolphins. Apparently 36 of the U.S. Navy’s trained cetaceans have gone missing in the Gulf of Mexico, could be wearing special harnesses carrying “toxic dart” guns (can’t be good), and have been trained to shoot at divers in wetsuits simulating terrorists in exercises. Their coastal compound was breached during Hurricane Katrina, sweeping many of the mammals out to sea, and though the Navy isn’t confirming it, sources close to naval intelligence confirm that perhaps now is not the time to take that underwater pleasure diving excursion in the Gulf not that it’s exactly the place to be, anyhow.
I also received some forwarded emails. Since they were forwarded, I don't want to publish the names of the people without their permission, but there are some amazing reports coming out of the city:
Just in case you haven't caught this bit of info yet, here is what the Red Cross is doing in New Orleans: feeding the National Guard and the police and site seeing. We have not seen one Red Cross person doing one thing for any citizen of New Orleans. They do not bring us food or water (the Salvation Army has done this, tho, and we give them many kudos for being the ONLY official disaster relief doing ANYTHING in the city of New Orleans) or medical care or anything. I have only seen two Red Cross vehicles in New Orleans - one perusing our Toxic Art exhibit outside our house (Jeffrey asked them where they'd been all this time and then told them in no uncertain terms to get lost) and one by the levy break in the lower 9th ward taking pictures. That's it. So please, people, spread the word - DO NOT give the Red Cross your money if you really want to help. They already have millions, and I'm sure that is plenty enough to feed the National Guard.
In case this email is too upbeat, I'll leave you with some details of my last experience in New Orleans before taking off for D.C. A couple of hours before leaving, our documentary film maker friends were headed into the Lower 9th Ward and so Jeffrey and I decided to go with them. The place we hadn't dared set foot yet for fear it would finish the job of breaking our hearts - and it did. The outer bands of Rita were starting to roll in, and the big black clouds and falling rain only heightened our already overly busy imaginations unwillingly reliving the unspeakable horrors that happened there.
We rolled into a scene of unimaginable devastation. Thick black caked but now re-liquefying sheets of mud over everything, still over a foot deep in some places. We started over on our side of St. Claude and visited the home and recording studio of my good friend Mike West (mikewest.net). The back door was open and I stepped in to the horrible stench of toxic sludge and spreading mold. Possessions strewn everywhere, nothing where it should be, everything wet, beyond salvation. Even with a bandana over my face, remaining in the house for more than a few minutes was impossible. Ever present in my mind was Mike's friend Terry and Mike's three dogs stranded on that roof amidst the rising waters.
From there we passed Fats Domino's compound on our way to the break in the levy. Another all to present memory, the picture of Fats being air lifted off his roof. Closer and closer in to the levy break the damage got worse and worse. Houses tilted off the ground, houses rotated off their foundations, cars flipped over, mud everywhere and not a living thing in site save one pitifully skinny forgotten dog. Then we rounded the corner and there is sat: a barge. For some reason I hadn't heard about this barge that came over the wall of the levy, I missed that piece of news. It took me several minutes to comprehend what was sitting there, this huge metal object sitting on what must have been several houses, one end still embedded in a half standing house. And beyond that? The most incredible, horrible, absolute devastation I have ever seen. For a radius of 10-20 blocks, everything was gone. Nothing stood but a few household items that explained that a neighborhood once stood there. To the side, the flattened wall of the levy. I can not imagine this, how fast those flood waters must have come in and with what force to lay waste to everything in its path, nothing and no one stood a chance. Unwillingly, my mind forces itself to imagine being in one of those houses as the water rushed in - but it can only skirt around the very edges of that horror.
Here an excerpt from another email I received:
Greetings friends, I have just returned from New Orleans and had the privilege to spend 3 days of the week with the Sheriff and Police departments of St. Bernard's Parish. This is east of New Orleans on the Mississippi and was left devastated by Hurricane Katrina. These police officers lost everything they own, Their houses are gone. They spent the first few days after the storm trapped in the courthouse. They own what they wear. They had no radios or phones on patrol for the first few days. About 50% or 100 police have left their jobs. Most of their patrol cars are gone, so they took civilian cars that work and spray painted SBSD (St. Bernard's Sheriff Dept.) on the side They live together on a boat and cook their food on a grill in a warehouse. No relief agency has stayed to help them. My partner and I were the first to stay with them for more than a day. It is unbelievable. The death toll there is around 100 people and the final number will never be known. At that time the day Sergeant did not know where his 20 year old daughter was (he just found her this weekend!). They watch as the Chinook helicopters circle New Orleans and stop before they ever reach St. Bernard's. Their town looks like it was fire bombed. Some houses were moved 7 blocks away from their property.
But they are not without spirit. They continue to work and are committed to doing whatever they can. They feel forgotten, but we assured them that is not the case.Today the Sergeant (the same one as above) found an intact crucifix from the church that was destroyed and posted it at the entrance to the parish. He said he took it as a sign from God to keep moving. He told me he wanted it to be an encouragement as the people return to their destroyed homes on Monday. The Governor of Louisiana has said that when the communities of this area are rebuilt that they should be rebuilt around the churches as she has watched the church respond over and above any other agency or group.
In other news:
- Residents were told Monday they could return home again and “help us rebuild the city.”
- Tulane-Lakeside Hospital announces opening:
Officials at Tulane-Lakeside Hospital which is located at 4700 I-10 Service Road in Metairie is in operating condition. The 119-bd facility has no structural damage or flooding. The medical office buildings are open and a number of physicians have begun seeing patients in their offices.
- The efforts of The Times-Picayune and WWL-TV to continue providing crucial information to the New Orleans area and its evacuees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina will be honored with this year’s Manship Prize for Exemplary Use of Media Technology.
- The Knights of Babylon is committed to staging its 67th Annual Mardi Gras Parade down St. Charles Ave. The krewe owns all 20 of its floats as well as the “den” in which they are houses. The den which dated back to the 1800’s is the oldest building in the Irish Channel of New Orleans and was untouched by flooding. One key change for the post-Katrina parade is that two floats will be dedicated to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). The Municipal Auditorium where the krewe traditionally throws its post-parade Ball will not be utilized. An “after party,” usually a sit-down dinner for 900 that begins at midnight and ends at 7 a.m. will be substituted at a new venue. Blaine Kern’s “Mardi Gras World,” with the party headlined by New Orleans legends Vince Vance and the Valiants and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. “For the first time in history, we are going to open the event to the public and donate the proceeds to the New Orleans Police,” the Captain said.
- Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures officially announced that production of the film The Reaping has continued in Louisiana. An impromptu meeting between actor Dennis Quaid and New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass ended with a commitment by Quaid to return to New Orleans as the site of his next movie.
- The Sheraton at 500 Canal Street with nearly all of its 1,100 rooms in use.
- The W New Orleans in the business district closed only a day and has filled 150 of its 423 rooms, while the W French Quarter never fully closed and is using all of its 98 rooms.
- The Ambassador Hotel in the Warehouse District reopened September 16th and is using all but 12 of its 165 rooms.
- Among other hotels that have managed to open and serve emergency officials are Le Cirque Hotel at Lee Circle and the Royal Sonesta and Omni Royal Orleans hotels in the Quarter.
- Windsor Court Hotel to open November 1st.
- Management of the well-known fine-dining establishment Arnaud’s Restaurant says the restaurant will reopen as quickly as possible. Proprietor Archie A. Casbaria says damage assessment is under way and cleanup and repairs will begin soon. “Our staff is regrouping and we are interviewing to fill open positions,” he said. The French Quarter landmark employs more than 250 staff plus a large network of suppliers and service providers. Employees and prospective employees should contact email@example.com
- The LRA has been in contact with Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) officials and they recommend the following when reopening your restaurant.
The rumor started today about a Columbus Day welcome back party in Jackson Square on October 10th.
The Crew from Mom’s Ball is still scheduling their event for October 29th. Place and time to be announced.
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